Miri – 9 November 2010 – Having just completed their John Curtin Weekend rural outreach project spanning two weekends last month, the Curtin Volunteers! (CV!) of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) are forging ahead in their community service efforts. They recently held their Annual Fundraising Event in support of the Sarawak Aids Concern Society (SACS) and the National Transplant Resource Centre at Bintang Megamall here.
Some RM2,600 in public donations was raised during the day-long event, which also saw the Curtin Volunteers! helping raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS and organ donation through an exhibition and awareness talks.
The Curtin Sarawak Curtin Volunteers! is the Sarawak chapter of the Curtin Volunteers!, Australia’s first and largest student-run volunteer organisation first established at Curtin University in Perth in 1994 and now spans all of Curtin’s campuses in Australia and in Sarawak.
Organising chairman Wong Kah Wai said the Curtin Volunteers! were very appreciative of the support given by the general public, as well as the students and staff of Curtin Sarawak, towards the event.
“Every single sen counts and will go a long way to helping those affected by HIV/AIDS. All the donors that day received a red ribbon as a symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as a token of thanks from us for their contribution,” said Wong.
Theresa Ping Tingang, secretary of SACS, disclosed in her HIV/AIDS awareness talk that the current statistics of HIV/AIDS carriers and patients was a cause for alarm as a large proportion are young adults between the ages of 17 and 35 years of age.
“The number is growing even as we speak. I hope that, through events such as this, we will create greater awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst Sarawakians, such as how to prevent its spread, dispel some of the myths about how it is transmitted, and break down the stigma which exists in our community about the carriers and patients,” she said.
Chew Hoong Ling, a passionate organ donation advocate from Kuala Lumpur, also gave a talk on organ donation awareness during the event. Chew is a member of the Organ Donation Public Awareness Action Committee under the Malaysian Ministry of Health, and is herself an organ donor.
According to Chew, Sarawakians are more receptive to donating their organs after they die compared to their Peninsular Malaysia counterparts.
“In Peninsular Malaysia, people are reluctant to donate their organs for religious reasons. However, it is not so in Sarawak. Sarawakians are inclined to ask practical questions pertaining to the procedures of organ donation,” Chew said.
Some 30 students from three local secondary schools were present to show their support for the causes and also participate in several games and activities lined up for students.
Adding to the fun and festivities during the event were members of Curtin Sarawak’s Cheerleading Club and Music Society, who gave rousing cheerleading and musical performances.
At the event closing ceremony, Wong Kah Wai handed over of the donations collected to Theresa Ping Tinggang in the presence of the state assemblyman for Pujut, Andy Chia, and pro vice-chancellor and chief executive of Curtin Sarawak, Professor Ian Kerr. Also present was SACS project manager Rahmah Wahap-Nicholls.
In his speech prior to the handover, Professor Kerr said he was impressed with the initiative of the Curtin Volunteers! in collaboration with the Curtin Music Society and Cheerleading Club to help raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and organ donation.
He added that the event was indeed a noble cause as it addressed two pressing issues in Malaysian society today, and hopefully it had helped create sufficient awareness amongst Mirians and dispelled any myths and misconceptions regarding the issues.
Sharing Professor Kerr’s sentiments, Andy Chia in his closing speech encouraged the students of Curtin Sarawak to continue organising such events, especially on weekends, as they were obviously worthwhile activities and furthermore addressed important community issues. He said such events could create a strong impact in terms of raising awareness of issues among the public and could benefit them greatly.